The name Silk Cooking derives from the term Silk Road which was used in ancient times to denote the trade route from Asia to Europe. Trade on the Silk Road played a significant role in the development of civilisations such as China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, and Arabia, opening long-distance, political and economic interactions between the civilisations.
Afghanistan was one of the main countries through which the route travelled. As a consequence of cultural migrations of the Silk Road, Afghanistan’s culture was influenced by the diverse traditions of travelling merchants.
Afghan cooking traditions take inspiration from China, Italy, India, Greece and neighbouring countries from the ancient Persia. The combination of these cultures bring diversity and innovation to the cooking methods and recipes of Afghan cooking.
The Silk Cooking set, designed by Massoud Hassani, combines traditional cooking methods cultivated in ancient Afghanistan, with modern materials and designs. The set revives forgotten cooking methods that could enrich our modern society and help to encourage a healthier diet.
Awang is a masher with a container of 1.5 litres which can be used for various products ranging from garlick to watermelon. The person can easily make fresh watermelon juice without losing any of the taste qualities. Since the watermelon consists of 91% water almost the whole initial weight of the watermelon can be turned in to juice, at the same time leaving the seeds out.
Batghar is a cookware based on one of the traditional cooking methods in Afghanistan which involves using hot sand for cooking. Batghar is adapted to fit the modern kitchen at the same time retaining the main advantages compared to regular cooking involving oil or steam. Instead of sand the Batgar is using pebbles which can be heated up to 300 degrees and stay heated for 2-2.5 hours. The food which is cooked can be packed in aluminium folium and cooked in a way which allows all the vitamins and juices to stay with the meal. Thanks to the temperature of pebbles the meal can be ready in 15 minutes instead of 1 hour. Apart from that, temperature retention allows to save energy by heating up the Batghar only once and using it for cooking several dishes.
After the cooking is finished, pebbles can be easily removed from the pot and cleaned.
Unlike the other pieces in the set, Aftawa does not serve any cooking purposes. It is inspired by the Aftawa lagan, which is a hand washing dish. In some villages in Afghanistan, people do not have access to proper plumbing system and therefore water becomes very precious for them. As a substitute they use Aftawa lagan to wash their hands during the meal. In a richer community during the meal there are two specially trained persons who use Aftawa lagan to wash the hands of people who are sitting at the table.
Aftawa is a is inspired by the traditional Aftawa lagan, but designed to fit European community. It reminds us of the importance of water. It can be used on the table during the meals or other events.
Naanwai is another piece in the Silk Cooking set which was inspired by Tandoor, a 1 meter deep ground oven made out of raku clay,which is used to bake bread. The temperature inside Tandoor is so high that it allows the bread to be baked only in few minutes.
Naanwai is a substitute for Tandoor that can be used in modern kitchen. First we put Naanwai on fire to preheat it to the required temperature. After the temperature is reached we flip around the upper part, which absorbed the heat, and we put the pastry into it and flip it back. With this method the bread can be cooked within 5 minutes.
How it's made?
Moeders Gerechten - Afghan Cooking Book by Parwin Zamani
“Thinking about our children and future grandchildren, who will be born in Europe, I have put together an Afghan cookbook of traditional recipes. I want to be able to transfer some of our traditional eating culture to them.” Parwan Hassani
The Silk Cooking book intends to revive Afghan traditions in the minds of our future children and to bring Afghan cooking to Dutch people who want to try our recipes and would like to know more about our eating culture. At this time, people know only of war in our home country, and they know hardly anything about our traditions and the delicious recipes and eating culture which has endured the endless years of devastating war.
For Afghan people, it is customary that all people eat together. The dining table and eating together is very important in our country. We serve the food on big platters and people sit around it and put the food on their own plates like a buffet. All the children sit at the table. The person who brings in the meal says, ‘bevar ma jin, esh te haaie gub.’ This means: ‘Please and enjoy the meal’.
In their early childhood, children learn so much from their parents and other family members, such as respect for elders and table manners. They learn the customs of the country. Everybody waits to start eating until after the oldest member of the party has begun, and after that the others and the children are allowed to serve themselves and begin to eat. During the meal it is pleasant being together while everyone talks with others. After the meal the oldest say:’goda ja sjukker’ meaning ‘thank God for this delicious meal’ and they bring together their two open hands to their faces. Then everyone may rise.
In the Afghan kitchen delicious dishes are prepared and Parwin is a wonderful cook. You will notice this when you try one of her recipes. Not only are the color and the scent attractive, but the manner of serving makes it a feast to get to know the Afghan kitchen. When you enter a store with an Afghan woman to buy basmati rice, you will notice that there are make kinds of basmati rice and that Afghans are very choosy. When you have brought home the right kind of rice, then the manner of soaking the rice in cold water, pouring it off and boiling it, is not an art that you can just do correctly. It is the same way with lamb meat, pumpkin, zucchini, eggplant, , carrots and numerous herbs. I hope that this cookbook will show you that Afghans have an old culinary culture which is important to learn and to know.
Moeders Gerecht - Mother's Dishes?
Most of our food has been packaged. This means that they have a date showing how long they can be held. It has to be eaten quickly or it must be discarded. Much of what we eat these days has been industrially made. Often it comes in nice packaging that is attractive and easy.
In this book we want to emphasize healthy, unadulterated and locally produced food how you should prepare it and where you can buy the best ingredients. The best is of course if all the ingredients come out of your own garden.